Cross Tolerance to Environmental Stressors: Effects of Hypoxic Acclimation on Cardiovascular Responses of Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) to a Thermal Challenge

J Therm Biol. 2011 May;36(4):250-254. doi: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2011.03.009.


Hypoxia and temperature are two major, interactive environmental variables that affect cardiovascular function in fishes. The purpose of this study was to determine if acclimation to hypoxia increases thermal tolerance by measuring cardiovascular responses to increasing temperature in two groups of channel catfish. The hypoxic group was acclimatized to moderate hypoxia (50% air saturation, a P(O2) of approximately 75 torr) at a temperature of 22° C for seven days. The normoxic (i.e. control) group was maintained the same, but under normoxic conditions (a P(O2) of approximately 150 torr). After acclimation, fish were decerebrated, fitted with dorsal aorta cannulae, and then exposed to increasing temperature while cardiovascular variables were recorded. The end point (critical thermal maximum, CTMax) was defined as a temperature at which heart rate and blood pressure sharply decreased indicating cardiovascular collapse. Fish acclimatized to moderate hypoxia had higher resting heart rate than controls. Hypoxic acclimatized fish had a significantly higher CTMax. Acclimation to hypoxia increases the cardiovascular ability of channel catfish to withstand an acute temperature increase.